Monday, September 28, 2009

A "Chef Paul Cajun Chili" weekend...

Saturday started off bright and sunny. If nothing else, I knew I would be able to get out for a ride. I also had a couple of items in mind that needed addressing. I had gotten the idea that I wanted to pick up a ride bell for my daughter. I also had made a short list of custom parts (14), that she might find interesting for her trusty steed. Just little things here and there, which would replace some of the stock, dull, uninspired parts with a little bling and class.

Tops in my humble estimation amongst the plethora of parts-producing companies, are KuryAkyn:

and Big Bike Parts, makers and distributors of Show Chrome Accessories:

Companies like Cobra:





and Custom World International:

also get a hearty nod of approval, for supplying some of the very best parts to be found anywhere. It's funny to think of nowadays, but there was a time in the not-so-distant-past, when custom parts for metric bikes had to be pretty much made from scratch. Now...? There are a wealth of parts manufacturers who have cashed in big time to the metric cruiser market. The riding community has literally exploded over the last 15 years or so. Savvy riders have sent the message to Milwaukee that it takes a lot more than an antiquated 'bar-and-shield', to get their hard-earned cash. The ancient and ridiculous mantra of 'real bikers ride Harleys', has been relegated to the urban myth locker, once and for all.

When it comes to actually ordering parts, I have learned through trial and error (more like: trial and rape...), that "supporting my local dealers", is a thankless, expensive and foolhardy proposition.

My two favorite providers of bike parts are in fact CruiserCustomizing and XtremeRevolution.

Both companies hail from California and both provide first-rate, unequalled service. They also offer the best prices you'll find anywhere on custom parts and free shipping (UPS - ground) anywhere in the continental USA.

Case in point: I stopped into my local Powersports location off of Hunt Club. I wanted to check out the immediate availability of a couple of parts, that I planned on getting for my little girl's ride. As I stood there scanning the KuryAkyn parts wall, I was disappointed not to see the chrome deep dish bezels I had previously bought, for her front turn signals. The rear ones needed done as well, just to give the bike that 'balanced' look. I was also toying with the idea of using red bulbs for the turn signals. But it was not to be. I did however spy a great looking chrome rear brake pedal cover. It was on sale for $36.00 and change. I snapped it up on the spot.

Later canvassing through my favorite online sites would reveal that they (CC and XR...) were selling it for considerably less. ($28.15 USD). As for the chrome turn signal bezels? I had the young parts lad look up the going price in the Kury catalog. Without batting an eyelid, he informed me that they would cost me $75.00... not counting taxes. I almost had a coronary and told him outright that was way-yyy too much. I then informed him that the US suppliers were charging no more than $36.00 for the same parts. Actually I lied. Upon verifying that figure as well once I got home, I discovered that I could buy them online for $36.85. My bad...

It don't take a rocket scientist to figure out what side your bread is buttered on, in this case. I would be ordering them from the States and would take a leisurely ride down to Ogdensburg to fetch 'em... I then stopped into Ottawa Good Times, to see if they had any ride bells that would fit my requirements. They had some in stock, which were your typical offerings... a nice, floaty little guardian angel on them. I had previously purchased a ride bell there for Baby, which was in the shape of a grenade. I thought it a little more appropriate and in keeping with my general character.

I had held a consultation with my daughter's hubby, prior to beginning this shopping errand. It was decided that my daughter would probably prefer the same model I had purchased, as it was a little more 'hardcore'. I searched fruitlessly to find another one. Ah well... Perhaps at another time.

The ride out had been absolutely great. I had taken the Rideau Road and hung a right on the Bowesville Road, which took me up to the road running the perimeter of the Ottawa Airport. I followed that down to Limebank Road, where their impressive widening project is just going great guns. The changes which have taken place down in that area, in the last year alone, are flabbergasting. Holy urban encroachment, Batman! I carried on to Hunt Club from there. On my way back, I decided to take the River Road out to Manotick and stop in at Tim's for a small double double. I took my time and enjoyed the wonderful riding temperature. It simply couldn't have been better.

Arriving home, I parked Baby down at the foot of the driveway. I wanted to leave plenty of space for bringing out my daughter's bike, so that I might install the new piece on it. I flashed her up and let her idle at high revs for awhile, until I knew I could safely bring her down to her normal idle, without her stalling on me. Everytime I bring her bike outside, I scan it looking for water spots, missed areas, anything which could be made/cleaned better. The painted surfaces, the aluminum, the chrome, the rubber, the plastic. Everything is cleaned, waxed, polished, Armor-All'd. The stock brake pedal cover was a simple black rubber pad. Yuch! That does nothing for the soul at all. Even less for the eye... The new, KuryAkyn brake pedal cover, is a wonderful chrome and rubber clamshell design, securely held in place by four set screws, which of course I Loc-Tited in place. The whole procedure took perhaps 5 minutes to complete. The difference was amazing.

It would be so easy for me, who loves bikes, loves working on them and in particular, customizing them, to get carried away here. But I was reminded by Matt, that for as much as my intentions might be honorable, it should fall of course, to my daughter to customize her own bike. He had mentioned that she was a little apprehensive about me doing so, while she was so far away. The customizing process is an essential, innate, integral part of owning a bike. It is the process of looking at it, as though it were a blank canvas. Of figuring out what might not only look good, but what would reflect her personal taste, her values, her beliefs. The hours spent scouring through magazines and websites, of checking out other people's rides at events and chance meetings on the road. There is no way that I could rob my little girl of this opportunity. On this, her first bike ever...

So I fired her off a rocket, telling her to lay aside her fears. Yes, I might go out and buy her the odd widget for her ride, but I would serve more as a source of technical advice. I would forward her on the list I had compiled on various parts, to see if any of them struck her fancy. I also provided her with my very best websites for parts. I also advised her to make her own "wish list" and dist copies to family and friends. That way, whenever special occasions arose (Birthdays, Christmas, Channukah...), we would have a ready-made list from which to pick, assuring all concerned that we would be getting her something that she actually liked/wanted.

I ended Saturday with a shopping trip to the Metro store in the late afternoon. There I picked up the provisions I would need for my chili. Arriving back home, I set up shop in the kitchen, where I proceded to cook up a storm. A Cajun Chili storm, that is... The aroma wafted through the house and made it feel super-homey. I let it simmer for four hours or so, before removing it from the heat. I kept stirring it occasionally, to help it cool some. I finally laid a layer of cellophane between the pot's opening and the lid, basically creating a hermetic seal. I then let it stand on the stovetop overnight. I would re-heat it the following afternoon, as the time drew near for my guests to arrive.

Sunday was spent doing chores, such as vacuuming, cleaning the washrooms, cycling the laundry and watching the rains come down. I dashed out to the store momentarily between sowers, to pick up some cheese sticks and some pre-grated double cheddar cheese mix. As a topping on a nice bowl of chili, it's pretty hard to beat. Upon returning home, I did manage to get in a little gaming as well. At 1520hrs, I turned the heat on under the chili. I dialed in the setting on 3 and let it idle until it heated right through, stirring it every 15 minutes or so. Once I was certain that it was well heated, I replaced the lid and put it on simmer. My step-daughter and her hubby arrived a little after 1630hrs, bringing with them cheese rolls and a scrumptious lemon meringue pie for dessert.

Supper was wonderful and we all ate our fill. Dessert followed along with a cup of tea, after which we repaired to the games room where we watched the latest of the "Transformers" saga. It was a very well made movie, which proved to be very entertaining throughout it's 2 1/2 hour length. With the movie done and another successful "Chef Paul's No Fail - Southern Gale Cajun Chili Fiesta" under my belt, it was time to see the kids off. I always thoroughly enjoy their company, whenever we have the chance to get together.

I was not long in calling it a night, following the cleaning up of dishes and sorting out the kitchen. Monday morning would come early enough, although as I was slated for the 10-6 shift, I would have the luxury of sleeping in somewhat. And that is always a good thing! All in all, it was a very good weekend indeed.

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